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Challenge Shelf Life Predictions & Stability Measurements for Foods

Shelf Life Predictions & Stability Measurements for Foods

Award: $20,000 USD
Deadline: Withdrawn
Active Solvers: 139
Posted: Sep 06 2019
Challenge ID: 9934243
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Understanding and predicting food stability is essential to the food industry.  Traditional storage trials, modelling, accelerated shelf-life trials, challenge trials, and kinetic assays play a role, but are often found to be inadequate.  The Seeker is looking for new ways to measure biochemical and/or chemical stability (e.g. off-flavor formation) in food products to make decisions or to assign shelf-lives to food products.  Specifically, the Seeker requires methods to measure changes to food quality that may arise from only very small compositional changes relative to a high background.

This Theoretical Challenge requires only a written proposal.


Most food manufacture is dedicated to producing foods that are not immediately consumed, but are stored and transported to be available as needed.  When food is used, it is expected to be in as good a quality state as it was when it was first manufactured.  To take the risk of storing and transporting foods, the food industry needs to have confidence in the knowledge of how long food will last. Thus, understanding and predicting food stability is essential to the food industry and its customers.

Chemical (e.g. off-flavor formation), physical (e.g. sedimentation) and microbial (e.g. pathogen growth) stability are all important; However, the Seeker is only interested in understanding and predicting chemical stability, including biochemical stability (e.g. enzyme-catalyzed chemistry).

The Solver is expected to identify principles for analytical (bio)chemical methods that measure very small changes that occur in food products in a relatively short period of time. This will allow an estimation of reaction rates. Changes could be due to reactions such as lipid oxidation, Maillard reactions, enzyme-catalyzed lipolysis and enzyme-catalyzed proteolysis. Methods should not affect reaction kinetics

Furthermore, the Seeker is exclusively interested in processed foods stored at ambient temperatures. Fresh fruits, vegetables and fresh meats are not in consideration. Frozen foods are also not being considered.

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker. If multiple proposals meet all the Solution Requirements, the Seeker reserves the right to award only the solution which they believe best fits their needs. 

To receive an award, the Solvers will have to transfer to the Seeker their exclusive Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the solution. However, the Seeker will be willing to consider a licensing agreement for a partial award if exclusive IP cannot be transferred by the Solver.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on October 6, 2019

Late submissions will not be considered.

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InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is a Theoretical IP Transfer Challenge?

An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.

This Challenge is a Theoretical-IP Transfer Challenge, meaning that Solvers must relinquish all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. By contrast, Theoretical-Licensing means that the Seeker is requesting non-exclusive rights to use the winning solution. For these forms of a Theoretical Challenge, Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.

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